Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal Mini Case Study: Steel versus Heavy Timber Construction

Introduction

Just six miles out of Sitka, Alaska lies the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, formerly known as the Old Sitka Dock on Halibut Point Marine. The deep-water port hosts large vessels up to 1,100 ft including cruise ships, yachts, and commercial vessels. With a rise in tourism and forecasted growth over the next ten years, a new terminal was proposed to host the steady increase of visitors to Sitka.

 

Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal in Sitka Alaska design rendering by Canadian Timberframes Ltd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objective

Create a Terminal Bay that is natural in feeling to compliment the scenic location, is inviting to guests, memorable & cost-efficient.

 

Design Description

The Sitka Cruise Terminal is a hybrid timber frame structure comprised of glulam and #1 grade Douglas fir timber. Canadian Timberframes used building information modelling (BIM) to create a 3-D model indicating member sizes and connection arrangements. Model information was used to create shop drawings and to control the computer numerical control (CNC) router used to fabricate the timber components.

During the design phase, close communication between the design team (Canadian Timberframes), structural engineers (Fire Tower Engineered Timber), the contractor (McG Constructors), and the supplier (Canadian Timberframes) all worked in partnership to troubleshoot and avoid future installation problems.

 

“We love the look and feel of the large wood timbers and have many comments from people who have seen the facility. They have all been very positive. ~Chuck McGraw, McG Contructors

The large-scale timbers are proportionate to the scale of the project and give the space a warm, contemporary and tactile feel, that connects with the natural environment surrounding the terminal.

 

Building Materials

The timber was grade stamped at Canadian Timberframes in-house sawmill, the timber was cut and stained in the shop, allowing for speedy erection once on site.  Erection went seamlessly McG Constructors, who mentioned it took a similar amount of time as it would have with a steel structure. 

 

 

Considerations

The new cruise terminal was originally designed as a steel building. The cost of the steel structure was unappealing to the owners. Canadian Timberframes was brought in by McG Constructors and consulted on the project and the possibility of a heavy timber construction to be considered as a cost-effective solution.

 

Result

When McG Constructors, Inc compared the two quotes: one using steel for construction materials and the other using heavy timber and glulam for construction, the answer was clear. Heavy timber & glulam supplied by Canadian Timberframes was the way to go. It achieved their objectives and saved them approximately 50% in their construction materials.

 

Conclusion

The Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal on Halibut Point was originally designed as a steel structure. The heavy timber structure was cost-effective and resulted in a more desirable aesthetic building for tourist traffic. To see the various stages of design and construction of this Terminal please check out the project page.

 



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